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Wrong lesson

Vocational diplomas have been a failure. What would work better?

By Tina Isaacs   October 2011

If you missed the 2011 diploma results, published alongside this summer’s GCSEs and A-levels, you’re not alone. There was almost no coverage of them. When Labour’s flagship education programme was first announced in 2005, the government predicted up to 40 per cent of 14 to 16-year-olds, some 250,000 students per year group, would take diploma qualifications by 2013. This year, a little over 10,500 students completed the full programme, not all successfully. At a cost so far of up to £373m, diplomas have been a spectacular failure.

What happened? In short, the architects of the diploma failed to learn the…

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